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About Judy

As WP's managing editor, I edit review and preview articles, attempt to keep up with the frantic pace of Rainier's news posts, and keep our reviewers on deadline, which is akin to herding cats. When I have a moment to myself and don't have my nose in a book, I like to play action/RPG, adventure and platforming games.


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WorthPlaying's Top Games of 2021 - Countdown, 20-11

by Judy on Jan. 3, 2022 @ 12:00 a.m. PST

So far, we've revealed the honorable mentions. Today, we're starting the countdown of the top 20 titles. Be sure to tune in tomorrow to see what WP considers to be the best game of 2021. Read more for the results!

20. TIE - Cruis'n Blast (Switch) / Scarlet Nexus (PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC)

Cruis'n Blast is a very pleasant surprise for those who crave arcade racing over the simulation style. It nails the speed and the ease with which anyone can pick it up and play, thanks to a simplified control scheme and the easy AI difficulty in the early stages. Although the variety is superficial, there's a good variety of tracks here and plenty of oddball vehicles for players to unlock. One can argue that the game isn't deep, and dedicated players can get almost everything done in a day, but with pure arcade racing being gone for so long, you tend to forgive all of that when you're enjoying every moment.

I think the world of Scarlet Nexus has a lot to offer, and I enjoyed getting a significant taste of it. Its concepts on brain power and psionic combat feel fresh, at least artistically, and I want to see where it possibly goes. I'm still abuzz over the final boss confrontation. I don't think it's quite for everyone, but fans of the anime style of storytelling will find something to connect with here.

19. TIE - Alan Wake Remastered (PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC) / Loop Hero (Switch/PC)

Alan Wake Remastered is exactly what it says in the title, and that is a good thing. Alan Wake has received a thorough and clean remaster that doesn't compromise its original look and vision but enhances the gameplay by using all of the PS5's central features, including fast loading times and DualSense feedback. Its story and gameplay, while not perfect, still hold up well today. There is no story-driven game quite like Alan Wake, and being able to revisit this Xbox 360 classic on the PS5 is a dream come true — especially since this likely means that we will get that long-promised sequel.

In Loop Hero, you watch your little man go around a loop, and the bulk of your interactions involve changing equipment, putting down items in the environment, and frantically praying that RNG favors you. Despite what sounds like a boring concept, Loop Hero excels beyond its description on paper. Making the right choices, picking the right gear, and figuring out if you can eke out just one more battle create a gameplay loop that is as engaging as they come.

18. TIE - Eye of the Temple (PC) / Microsoft Flight Simulator (XSX/PC)

Eye of the Temple is a rare VR gem that caught me by surprise. Its natural and immersive room-scale movement system, rewarding puzzle sections, and overall scale are excellent. If you own a VR headset and have enough room to play, Eye of the Temple successfully proves the potential of VR.

The Xbox Series X version of Microsoft Flight Simulator works best if you look at it as the closest approximation that anyone could get to a sophisticated flight simulator without a beefy PC. The cracks start to show when you check the ground for details, and the frame rate could be better, but it remains a stunning game that showcases the system's power. The controls remain technical enough to scare away the easily intimidated, but the number of tutorials and assists ensure that you can get into the air with ease — even if getting back on the ground can be a challenge. It does well in its promise to let players see the world from above, and if you have the patience to deal with a byzantine menu system and don't want to fire off any missiles, you'll enjoy the countless hours you can spend with Microsoft Flight Simulator.

17. TIE - Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker (PS5/PS4/PC) / Shin Megami Tensei V (Switch)

There are few rags-to-riches stories in gaming as stunning as Final Fantasy XIV. It's gone from one of the most maligned MMOs on the market to one of the best Final Fantasy games out there. Endwalker stands out as being something impressive both for MMOs and video games in general: a satisfying, exciting, enjoyable conclusion to a story over a decade in the making that pulls off the near-impossible task of making an MMO arguably the best Final Fantasy story out there.

Shin Megami Tensei V is pretty much the sequel that fans have been waiting for. There are a few potentially controversial decisions, such as the emphasis on an open-world area instead of the franchise classic dungeons, but they ended up working out in the end. The gameplay was fun from start to finish, and the 40-hour runtime seemed to fly by thanks to excellent pacing. If you liked Nocturne but wished it were more modern, SMT5 is the game you've been waiting for.

16. Far Cry 6 (PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC)

If you had a good time with the previous games in the series, you're likely to find the same level of enjoyment in Far Cry 6. However, many of the gameplay elements in this new game are awfully like the versions that were first established in Far Cry 3 and reused with minimal changes in every subsequent game. There's certainly more than enough content to validate the game as its own, full entry into the series. I wish for a future Far Cry entry that I can play without being able to pick out which things are the same as the previous title.

15. F1 2021 (PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC)

It all shapes up to make F1 2021 more than, well, F1 2020+1. The new game has applied a generous amount of polish to the things that it carried forward, and the new modes, such as Braking Point and the two-player career mode, add some appreciable entertainment to a solid racing game. It is equally enjoyable to an F1 nut as to someone who is entering the sport fandom, and I have been having a great time whenever I fire it up for a few laps.

14. It Takes Two (PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC)

While it has some story pains, make no mistake: It Takes Two is a fantastic game and a welcome 2021 surprise. Grab a friend or loved one; find a co-worker or bridge buddy. Regardless of who you pair up with, this is one adventure you'll want to share together.

13. Death's Door (Switch/PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC)

Overall, Death's Door is a success. It's a short but entertaining and combat-heavy Zelda-like action-adventure that is only limited by scope. It might not have the most memorable puzzles or dungeons, but it has enough heart and skill to make up for its few, minor missteps.

12. Back 4 Blood (PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC)

Back 4 Blood is a fun blend of the classic Left 4 Dead template with a reasonable inclusion of modern traits. The basic zombie shooting brings forth just as many memorable and chaotic moments as the developer's original series, and the game absolutely sings in multiplayer, but the solo experience remains engaging for those who only get along with bots. The modern touches add some depth that doesn't detract from what makes this kind of game so fun in the first place. The steps to increase replayability accomplish that without feeling forced. Despite a few minor issues here and there, Back 4 Blood is a solid debut, and those who wanted some progress in the genre are going to find it in buckets here.

11. TIE - Days Gone (PS4/PC) / Mass Effect: Legendary Edition (PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC)

Days Gone is a long and slow burn that is well worth it. It tells a relatable story that feels grounded, and the later stages have some truly memorable moments, both in terms of story and gameplay. With all previous DLC included, some nice improvements for PC gamers, and the capability to run at high frame rates, the PC iteration of Days Gone is the definitive version to play.

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is absolutely fantastic. The amount of effort put into Mass Effect 1 alone is more than I've seen from a lot of other remasters, and overall, it's an absurd amount of content for one bundle. The games have aged well enough that they're still a ton of fun to play both for newcomers and returning veterans alike. Even the sour points, like ME3's ending, sting less when you play the whole thing as a package. If you like epic space adventures, then there's no single better buy than Mass Effect: Legendary Edition. Now let's hope that Mass Effect 4 can live up to the high bar set by the originals....

Editor's Note: Be sure to tune in tomorrow (Jan. 4, 2022) to see what WP considers to be the best game of 2021!

UPDATE (Jan. 4, 2022):

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